Dog shelters and rescues use the term “forever home” when looking for potential adoptees, but, sadly, many dogs end up coming back. No one who adopts a dog ever intends to bring it back to the shelter, but often families find themselves unable to make things work out with their new dog.
Generally, people return dogs for one of a few reasons. If you take a minute to read about these reasons and ensure that they aren’t a problem for you or your family, it’s much more likely that you’ll provide the “forever home” for which every shelter dog yearns.
Reason 1: Not everyone at the house really wants the dog
Far too often dogs end up in homes where they are not entirely welcome. Sometimes a husband or wife doesn’t want a dog but finally gives in and allows their spouse to have one. Sometimes a child wants a dog and, after she promises to take care of it, mom and dad relent.
No matter the reason, getting a dog when the whole household isn’t on board is a bad idea. Dogs that aren’t wanted by everyone in the house tend to become the center of arguments and a source of stress. Keeping a dog healthy and happy takes a lot of work and time, and a dog can sense when a member of its pack isn’t happy. In the end, a dog that isn’t 100% welcome in a home will feel uncomfortable and anxious.
Reason 2: The dog has behavior problems
When faced with the decision to adopt an older dog or a puppy, many people can’t resist the charm of the puppy. Puppies, however, are not low maintenance pets, and many people aren’t ready to handle all the mess and destruction that comes with an active puppy. Consider adopting an older dog that is already trained and proven trustworthy.
Of course, not all adult dogs are trained, and sometimes you’ll bring a dog home only to discover it has behavior problems you didn’t see in the shelter. If you are serious about being a “forever home” for your new dog, you’ll do some research or consult a professional trainer and help your dog learn how to behave properly.
If you simply don’t have the time, energy, or know-how to train a dog, consider adopting from group that fosters its dogs in regular homes. Foster parents get to know dogs intimately and can fill you in on all their quirks and special needs. Find a dog that has been fostered successfully in a home that is similar to yours and you’re much more likely to adopt a good fit.
Reason 3: The dog adoption was spur-of-the-moment
You should never adopt a dog on a whim. Adopting a dog is a serious decision that should take time to prepare for and execute. When you adopt a dog because of “love at first sight,” it’s very likely that you’ll regret your decision later.
Be realistic. Is a dog really a good fit for you and your family now? Is your home ready for a new dog? If you see a dog and really think she’s meant to be yours, ask the shelter or rescue to hold her for you for a few days. Talk to anyone else that will be living with the dog and make sure they are willing to adopt. You’ll cause yourself and the dog much less heartache if you prepare for the adoption and ensure that it is really a good idea.
Reason 4: A new baby is coming
Many couples get a dog in the early years of their marriage when they are young and have plenty of time. Often times, the dog becomes a sort of surrogate child. However, once human babies come along, some people think it’s time to get rid of Fido.
The truth is, dogs and kids can coexist happily and peacefully with fairly little effort on your part. Having a baby is a big responsibility, but so is having a dog. Don’t get a dog if you don’t plan on keeping it for its entire life. There is plenty of information about how to handle introducing your baby and your dog, so do a little research and enjoy watching your two “kids” meet each other.
If you simply can’t handle having a dog and a baby at the same time, don’t get a dog in the first place. You’ll only cause yourself and the dog pain when you have to separate once junior arrives.
Reason 5: The dog doesn’t get along with the other pets
You may adopt a dog thinking she will make a fantastic playmate for your other pets, but what is she doesn’t? Your dog may be perfectly happy to play with his canine friends at the dog park, but he may feel very differently once he’s on his own turf. Look for a dog rescue that will let your bring your dog along to meet potential adoption candidates or, even better, let the new dog come visit for a day or two.
Remember, adding another dog to the family can bring stress to everyone involved, so don’t give up if things go rough at first. Most dogs will learn to tolerate each other eventually, although the best situation is for multiple dogs to enjoy each other’s company. Make sure your existing dog really wants a friend and the new dog isn’t just there because you wanted him.